Opening your swimming pool soon? Crazy? Your puppies don’t think so…
Here we are, mid-March, and the weatherman’s continuing to predict cold weather, but you know Memorial Day is coming up fast. You’ve been thinking about opening your swimming pool, and you’ve been looking at it covered up all Winter which, by now, has amassed a wonderful collection of all sorts of detritus, not to mention the other nasty stuff that comes with it. Who knows just how much of that currently lurks at the bottom of your pool (or floats around in it), readying itself to become a highly-efficient algae factory as the sunnier weather grows closer.
Have you ever seen the difference between a pool that is opened in April vs. the end of May, especially after the temps eked their way upwards in April into May?
We can’t help you much with what Mother Nature continues to bring of course; but we can offer you some sound, professional advice that will make opening your swimming pool easier and get it ready for the season, while costing you less than if you waited until later. First though, we’d like to ask a few questions: how quickly do you think the weather will change in the next 30 to 60 days? Have there ever been hot days in April? Have you ever seen the difference between a pool that is opened in April vs. May, especially after the temps eked their way upwards in April into May?
Warmer temperatures breed algae in a swimming pool
For those swimming pools with mesh winter covers that allow sunlight through, too much sunlight can spell days of work to get the pool up to ideal swimming conditions.
Then, there’s the pollen. It wreaks havoc on in-ground swimming pool water that is not circulating, and cleaning it up just adds to the chore and expense. With the early pollen arrivals of the past few years, it certainly isn’t a bad idea to open your pool sooner than later, allowing your filter to help with the job before it gets out of hand.
As for the expense of opening your swimming pool early, some will argue that it costs more to do so. In reality though, given today’s availability of highly efficient salt chlorine systems and variable speed motors, the chemical and electrical costs can be nominal.
In any event, whether you have an above ground pool or an in-ground swimming pool, the basic steps found below for opening them are fairly similar. Many of them are also included in the services we offer.
Basic Steps to Opening your Swimming Pool
Whether an above ground or an in-ground pool, the basic steps that follow for opening them are fairly similar.
- Conduct an initial inspection of your pool and its surroundings. Take note of anything obvious that needs to be repaired before you begin. When in doubt, check with your swimming pool professional;
- Inventory everything you need to complete the job, including items stored away for the winter, and the needed tools and chemicals. Make sure you have what you need on hand.
Once you’ve addressed these preliminaries, you’re almost ready. A couple of important cautions first, and a few tips:
CAUTION: NEVER DRAIN your pool. Doing so causes vinyl liner pools to shrink, which will void your warranty and could cause additional damage to your pool. In gunite, plaster, or even fiberglass pools, draining the water from the pool could result in what’s called “floating” or “popping,” causing serious damage to the entire pool structure. Give us a call if you have concerns here.
CAUTION: Always add chemicals to water. DO NOT add water to chemicals.
The manufacturers of pool shock and other chemical products suggest that you wear protective goggles and other safety equipment to prevent injury. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions on the packaging closely while using these products.
Additional tips before starting the process:
- If you have a vinyl liner in your swimming pool, DO NOT allow un-dissolved pool shock to settle to the floor. Doing so may bleach or stain your pool liner;
- DO NOT use a non-chlorine shock with the initial start-up; maintaining a good chlorine residual is important.
- Check the pH range before shocking. It needs to be within the normal range before shocking, otherwise the extra chlorine can oxidize copper parts in the pool, especially the filtration and heating system;
- Bear in mind that it is better to add shock chemicals in small amounts at multiple locations across the pool rather than dumping in a large quantity and hoping it will disperse evenly.
The Opening Process:
- Carefully remove all the leaves, dirt and debris from the pool deck and winter cover before removing the cover. DO NOT let the winter mess simply drop into the pool;
- Remove all winter and ice expansion plugs (gizmos);
- Replace the respective directional returns (eyeballs), suction grates (usually used on lower suction fittings), circulator fittings, etc. If you are using standard, stationary eyeballs, point the flow of water DOWN toward the bottom of the pool to optimize the circulation;
- Begin bringing the water level up to normal operating level;
- Carefully remove the winter cover;
- Clean the winter cover, fold it up and store it away, so it’s easier to reinstall at the end of the season;
- Hook up the filtration system;
- Once the water level is sufficient, “prime” the pump with water, start it, check for obvious leaks and proper functionality. DO NOT start the pump dry;
The IVAC and After:
- Perform an intensive/initial vacuum (IVAC) of the pool. Clean and vacuum the pool of all dirt and debris. Get all of the excess stuff out of the pool before adding shock and start up algaecide, especially if the water is relatively clear and clean. The less stuff in the water, the more effective your initial shocking and chemical treatment will be. Repeat the IVAC, if needed, once the water clears in a few days to a week;
- Vacuum and brush the side walls of the pool to remove any buildup of bio-films there;
- Clean the liner or tile line with a good quality pool surface cleaner;
- Add initial doses of shock and algaecide;
NOTE: DON’T SKIMP with the algaecide, DON’T USE algaecides containing copper. Improper use of copper based algaecides can lead to the staining of pool surfaces. Follow the label directions for an initial dose.
CAUTION: After adding the initial shock and algaecide, run the filter for 48 to 72 hours continually. DO NOT backwash the filter during this time. Let the filter and the chemicals do the work.
- After 24-36 hours, perform a full chemical test and begin balancing the pool chemistry. Adjust pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness as needed;
- Inspect and install ladders and deck equipment;
- Backwash the filter. Chemically clean the filter after two weeks if necessary;
- Check the pool water chemistry again, and adjust as necessary.
About those Chloramines
Whether you use chlorine, bromine, an ionizer, or salt-chlorine when opening your swimming pool, shocking must be thorough in order to break up residual chloramines (also known as combined chlorines) from the winterizing process. If chloramines are not dealt with now, a lingering chlorine demand (which is an inability to maintain a solid chlorine or bromine level) problem will develop. Curing chlorine demands can be costly, so do it the right way now.
Keep the Water Properly Balanced
Remember, stay on top of your pool’s pH, Total Alkalinity and Calcium Hardness, and you, your family and guests will benefit throughout the Summer. Call us at 631.242.2667 if you’d like help with this, we’re ready to assist!.
Opening your Swimming Pool: Our 2019 Pool & Spa Services
Spring is almost here and Memorial Day is just around the corner! Now is the time to plan for opening your pool for the season. Have a look at the form we provide below for this service, and please feel free to give us a call at 631-242-2667. If you’d like to read more about it and our other in-season services, see our Pool Summerizing and Weekly Pool & Spa Maintenance Service pages.
Download Acrobat PDF copies of our 2019 Services forms:
Return the 2019 Spring Service Agreement with pre-payment before 4/30/2019 and receive 50% off the Start-up Chemical Package!
Is your pool’s Winter cover serviceable, does it need repair? Is it ready for a potentially harsh season? Have a look at our Pool Safety Covers page to learn more about what you need to know about pool covers, their use, upkeep, and how to choose the one that suits your unique needs!
Check out our Ultimate Gold Pool Service™ maintenance program, which provides homeowners a full suite of services for year-round comfort and worry free pool ownership!
Need a new pool pump? Want to save on energy costs?
Replace your older single-speed pump with a multi-speed or variable speed pump, and save energy while enjoying your pool, with $150 – $350 rebate on a qualifying pool pump!
Read more about the Energy Saving Strategies for Swimming Pools that are available.